Just over 20 years ago, a graphic designer created one of the cutest — and deadliest — mascots ever to grace the world of kawaii goods. Now, in 2021, Gloomy the Naughty Grizzly has featured everywhere from merchandise to racing teams. He even has his own anime!
If you're already familiar with Gloomy Bear, you probably know the appeal for yourself. But if this monstrous pink carnivore is complete news to you, allow us to introduce you.
About the Creator
Graphic designer Mori Chack is one of many artists throwing himself into the world of cute mascot design. From Sanrio to Disney, lots of companies sell goods based solely on the sweetness of their animal characters. But for Chack — whose designs at large are known as "Chax" — there was a darker side to these cuddly characters.
Chack considers animals to be wild by their very nature, and doesn't much think that humans and wild animals can get along. To that end, he created a mascot who was adorable, marketable, and drove that (relatively true) belief home: Gloomy the Naughty Grizzly, a combinate of cuteness and low-level gore.
Wild Animals Make Bad Pets
Gloomy the Naughty Grizzly is the merging of mascot aesthetics and the reality of the food chain. He stands about six feet talk and weighs as much as 2,000 pomegranates. (Which we're assuming is a standard unit of mascot weight measurement.) He's round and pink and squishy and adorable. And also he has massive claws covered in blood.
Gloomy Bear is the antithesis of all things cute and mascot-y. He's huggable, but you shouldn't hug him. (He's a bear.) He's marketable, but he's not friendly. And that dual nature seems to have struck a chord with fans... many of whom may be looking for something beyond standard innocent cuteness.
Bringing up Gloomy
So that's Gloomy Bear's real-world story, but what about his biography? Why in the world would anyone take in a literal bear? In the case of Gloomy's "owner" (if he can indeed be owned), Pity, it's all about love, and a bit of nostalgia.
Pity first found Gloomy when the bear was just a tiny cub. The baby bear reminded Pity of his childhood teddy bear, so he took it in. But baby animals grow up, and they don't stay tame.
Funnily, Gloomy's story is reminiscent of the plot of Rascal the Raccoon — except in Rascal, the young boy released his pet back into the wild. Considering families across Japan missed the point of the story and decided wild raccoons would make great pets (leading to them becoming an invasive species), maybe the similarity isn't a coincidence...
The Gloomy Phenomenon
Over the last 20 years, Gloomy Bear has become popular around the world. The bloodthirsty bear has sold as plushies, on T-shirts and home goods, and as collaborative items with brands like Space Invaders.
There was even a Gloomy Bear racing team for a time! "Gloomy Racing Group" featured pink cars, Gloomy race queens with fluffy costumes and blood-covered claws, and team merchandise!
Gloomy Goes Anime
At last, fans of "creepy kawaii" can feed their need with a Gloomy Bear anime! The new series, which started this month, gives us a closer look into the life of Gloomy and his hapless, dedicated owner Pity. Will Pity ever tame his pet?... We expect not.
The Gloomy the Naughty Grizzly anime exists as bite-sized slice of life stories, so you can get caught up quickly every week. Here's the first episode!
After 20 years, Gloomy Bear shows no signs of being tamed... but we wouldn't have it any other way. The king of creepy kawaii is still going strong. And, for better or for worse, it's looking like Pity is never going to learn his lesson.